Radical reforms to correctional services, designed to cut
community, were unveiled today by home secretary David Blunkett.
At the centre of this fundamental overhaul is the creation of a new
body to provide end-to-end management of all offenders, whether they
are serving sentences in prison, the community or both. This radical
rethink in offender management builds on the recommendations made in
the independent review of Correctional Services conducted by Patrick
The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) will bring together
the Prison and Probation Services to ensure that progress made in
prison is followed through in the community and that cutting
re-offending is a top priority for all.
Mr Blunkett said that the creation of the new service is possible
because of major government investment in, and reform of, both the
Prison and Probation Services, which have seen an increase in the
numbers of prison places by 15,000 and increased probation funding by
50 per cent.
Mr Blunkett said:
'This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way we
manage offenders, to make sure they pay back the community they have
harmed, to reduce re-offending and to cut crime. As I said two years
ago in my speech to the Prison Service Conference, I am not
interested in reform for reform's sake but in breaking patterns of
crime and creating a virtuous circle of prevention, detection,
punishment and rehabilitation through a reformed police service and
through a modernised criminal justice system and prison and probation
'This radical approach would not be possible without the very
significant progress we have already made in investing in and
improving the performance of the prison and probation services in
recent years. And these i mprovements have been under-pinned and
supported by substantial changes the government has made to the
structures of these organisations and to wider police reform and
reform of the criminal justice system.
'Public protection remains my top priority. Those who commit the most
serious crimes need to be locked up - in some cases for very much
longer than they used to be in the past. But we are also committed to
implementing radical changes that can help rehabilitate offenders and
reintegrate them into the community.'.
Mr Blunkett also announced the start later this month of the first
intermittent custody pilots, where offenders undertake compulsory
community programmes to address their behaviour while spending
weekends or other periods in prison.
The government's plans to reform correctional services are set out in
'Reducing Crime, Changing Lives' published today by the Home Office.
The new NOMS will be set up from June 2004. As well as its overall
remit to reduce re-offending and cut crime it will be responsible
- improving the enforcement and credibilityof community punishments
so that prison is not the first resort for less serious offenders;
- ensuring that both custodial and community punishments make
offenders address their behaviour and offer a path away from crime;
- raising educational standards among offenders in order to break
the link between low educational attainment and criminality.
Martin Narey, currently commissioner for correctional services, has
been appointed as chief executive of NOMS, and will be held
explicitly accountable for reducing re-offending. He will begin work
immediately to set up the new organisation.
A national offender manager will report to the chief executive and
manage ten regional offender managers, with directly responsibility
for reducing re-offending. The regional offender managers will be
responsible for reducing crime in the nine English regions and Wales
and will source prison places, community punishment, supervision and
other interventions through contracts with public, private and
voluntary sector providers.
Mr Blunkett added:
'These changes are an assertion of my confidence in those prison and
probation officers who work with offenders in prison and in the
community with such dedication. I believe that the new arrangements
will help make their work even more effective.
'I want to see robust, intensive community programmes replace
ineffective short custodial sentences that also allow us to take
decisive action where breaches take place.'
NOMS' chief executive will sit as an observer on the Sentencing
Guidelines Council, which is chaired by the Lord Chief Justice and
tasked with improving consistency in sentencing across England and
Today's announcement follows the review of correctional services
undertaken by Patrick Carter and draws extensively on his
recommendations. His report is also published today alongside
'Reducing Crime, Changing Lives'.
Mr Carter's report also recommends the introduction of a day
fine system where the fine is set as a number of days which can then
be multiplied to take account of an offender's ability to pay. This
would require primary legislation. The government believes there is a
strong case for introducing such a system and although at this stage
there is no commitment to taking it forward the Home Office and the
Department for Constitutional Affairs will explore its viability.
1. Minister for Correctional Services, Paul Goggins, will chair the
correctional services board to which NOMS will report their progress
and therefore provide ministerial accountability.
2. The Prison Service Agency will end but public sector prisons will
continue to be managed on a national basis reporting to the chief
executive of NOMS. The services currently provided by the National
Probation Service will be integrated in to NOMS.
3. Director general of the Probation Service, Eithne Wallis, will
immediately take up responsibility for the Change Programme with
NMOS, leading the organisational changes. There will be a competition
for an interim replacement as director general of the Probation
Service. Phil Wheatley will remain director general of the Prison
4. The home secretary addressed the Prison Service Conference on 3
5. Copies of 'Reducing Crime, Changing Lives' are available via the
Home Office website.